As a long-standing advocate for understanding issues of cultural and ethnic
diversity, I have served as President of APA Division 45, Society for the
Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues, and currently chair the
American Psychological Association’s Commission for the Recruitment,
Retention and Training of Ethnic Minorities implementation task force
(CEMRRAT2). Both of these organizations were instrumental in the approval
of the APA Multicultural Guidelines for Practice and the promotion of empirical
research addressing mental health issues of ethnic minority clinical populations.
It was Bertha Pappenheim — the famous “Anna O.” of Josef Breuer’s first
experiments with psychoanalysis, and a pioneer social worker in her own
right — who first named psychotherapy “the talking cure.” And so it is, as
a legion of well-controlled studies documents. Across a surprising variety
of psychotherapeutic approaches, verbal exchanges between client and
therapist can be powerfully curative — except when they aren’t.
In the fullness of time, our progress in understanding the natural order
advances through the process of science, and psychology is no exception.
To gain perspectives on this progress, one needs to take the long view of
a historian. In so doing, one will come to appreciate the role of great
ideas and creative individuals, while at the same time realizing that our
cumulative progress is greater than any one idea or individual.
Attachment theory as developed by John Bowlby has since the 1960s stimulated
theorizing about the normal and psychopathological development of
children, women and men. In an unprecedented way it demonstrated how
psychological functioning depends on adequate emphatic interaction from
the very beginning of life.